College of Engineering Welcomes Record Number of New Faculty

By Kelley Weiss

DAVIS, Calif., March 31, 2017 – The UC Davis College of Engineering hired 29 faculty members in 2015-16. The new faculty represent a group of scholars and teachers specializing in a range of areas including environmental sustainability, machine learning, electric vehicles and tissue regeneration. Continuing the college’s commitment to diversity, almost half of those hired are female.

The hiring done during this one-year period accounts for a more than 10 percent increase in faculty bringing the total number of faculty to 210. And, these additional faculty members will help match the large growth in student enrollment. Since 2011, the college’s enrollment has increased by almost 40 percent.

Jennifer Sinclair Curtis, dean of the UC Davis College of Engineering, says that the added faculty members will help the college accomplish even more. These new faculty members bring a breadth of engineering expertise and will join seven college departments. Please let us introduce you to this talented group.


JAMAL LEWIS, Assistant Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D., University of Florida (2012). RESEARCH: The Immunomodulatory Biomaterials Laboratory is focused on engineering novel, biomaterial systems that manipulate critical immune cells in vivo for therapy of immune-related conditions like type 1 diabetes. Further, we’re interested in understanding biomaterial-immune cell interactions, which may be instructive for future biomedical device design.
KAREN MOXON, Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D., University of Colorado (1994). RESEARCH: Neural encoding and plasticity, and neuroprosthetics and brain-machine interfaces.
ALYSSA PANITCH, Edward Teller Endowed Chair and Professor, Biomedical Engineering, Ph.D., University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1997). RESEARCH: The Panitch Lab is designing biopolymers that improve tissue healing and regeneration with the goal of limiting scar formation while promoting tissue repair. The lab focuses on both intracellular and extracellular approaches to direct molecular and cellular processes.


COLEMAN KRONAWITTER, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Ph.D., UC Berkeley (2012). RESEARCH: Chemical and materials aspects of new energy technologies, with particular focus on understanding chemical transformations driven by electrocatalytic and catalytic processes.
PRIYA SHAH, Assistant Professor, Chemical Engineering, Ph.D., UC Berkeley (2011). RESEARCH: The Shah Lab applies systems biology and engineering principles to study how infectious diseases hijack the cellular recycling process and develops synthetic biology approaches to control these processes for biotechnology and biomedical applications.
JASON WHITE, Lecturer PSOE, Chemical Engineering, Ph.D., University of Connecticut (2014). RESEARCH: Studies chemical engineering pedagogy, systems biology, and evolutionary algorithms.


HEATHER BISCHEL, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., Stanford University (2011). RESEARCH: From water reuse in California to resource-oriented sanitation in South Africa, Dr. Bischel is interested in safe and efficient reuse of water resources and sustainable sanitation to improve environmental and human health.
MAUREEN KINYUA, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., University of South Florida (2015). RESEARCH: Focuses on livestock, human and solid waste treatment and nutrient and energy recovery for communities, especially those in developing countries.
ALEJANDRO MARTINEZ, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., Georgia Institute of Technology (2015). RESEARCH: focuses on the behavior of soils and soil-structure interfaces with applications in foundations, earth retaining structures and soil reinforcement systems. Utilizes experimental and discrete element modeling techniques, as well as elements of bio-inspiration.
SABBIE MILLER, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., Stanford University (2014). RESEARCH: Designing sustainable infrastructure materials and bio-based composites, integrating sustainability into structural design, and improving durability of civil engineering materials.
VERONICA MORALES, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D,. Cornell University (2008). RESEARCH: Colloid and nanoparticle fate in soils; transport through porous media; biochar engineering.
HOLLY OLDROYD, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (2015). RESEARCH: investigating fundamental environmental turbulent transport of heat, moisture and pollutants at the interfaces of land, water and the atmosphere. Examples include quantifying evaporation and understanding sources of pollution to improve management strategies.
KATERINA ZIOTOPOULOU, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., UC Davis (2014). RESEARCH: Geotechnical earthquake engineering with an emphasis on liquefaction and its effects on structures and lifelines, and the constitutive modeling of liquefiable soils and bio-cemented sands. Numerical modeling of soil-structure systems; systems engineering, and risk quantification.
JONATHAN HERMAN, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., Cornell University (2015). RESEARCH: Water resources planning and management under uncertainty; multi-objective optimization and decision support; system dynamics simulation of coupled human-environmental systems.
COLLEEN BRONNER, Lecturer PSOE, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., State University of New York, Buffalo (2014). RESEARCH: Improving engineering pedagogy by incorporating active learning strategies without loss of content, teaching design through project-based learning and developing professional skills of students. Promoting diversity and inclusion and engaging underrepresented groups in engineering. Assessing strategies for integrating engineering into K-12 education.
ALEXANDER FORREST, Assistant Professor, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Ph.D., University of British Columbia (2011). RESEARCH: Investigating the influence that lakebed and seafloor features have on localized hydrodynamic flows and use of autonomous robotics and emerging technologies in a diverse range of applications from temperate reef systems in Australia to under-ice fluid dynamics in Antarctica.


DAVID DOTY, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Ph.D., Iowa State University (2009). RESEARCH: studies formal mathematical models of synthetic molecular systems capable of autonomous computation, such as custom-designed chemical reactions and “algorithmic crystals,” seeking to understand their fundamental logical and physical limits.
KURT EISELT, Lecturer SOE, Computer Science, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine (1983). RESEARCH: Exploration of tools and techniques to improve the educational experience for computer science students. Also, investigation into how combining social and communication skills training with technical education might create more and better life opportunities for youth on the autism spectrum.
CHO-JUI HSIEH, Assistant Professor, Computer Science, Ph.D., University of Texas, Austin (2015). RESEARCH: Machine learning and optimization for big data as well as various application areas including recommender systems and social networks.


  SRABANTI CHOWDHURY, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D., UC Santa Barbara (2010). RESEARCH: Wide bandgap semiconductor electronics devices with thrust on GaN, Diamond, Oxides. Energy-efficient electronics for next generation power conversion and RF applications. Electronics for harsh environment; large area flexible electronics; exploratory research for biological applications.
SHUGUANG (ROBERT) CUI, Child Family Endowed Chair and Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D., Stanford University (2005). RESEARCH: Data-driven large-scale information analysis and system design, including distributed signal processing, large-scale data analysis, data-driven wireless system design, and cognitive network optimization.
  SEBASTIAN GOMEZ-DIAZ, Assistant Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D., Technical University of Cartagena, Spain (2011). RESEARCH: The efficient control and manipulation of electromagnetic waves in unprecedented ways, aiming to overcome the limitations of current technology and communication systems in terms of dynamic reconfiguration, integration and miniaturization while simultaneously boosting their performance and enabling novel functionalities.
  LIFENG LAI, Associate Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D., Ohio State University (2007). RESEARCH: Information theory, stochastic signal processing, machine learning and their applications.
  HOOMAN RASHTIAN, Lecturer PSOE, Electrical and Computer Engineering, Ph.D., University of British Columbia, (2013). RESEARCH: Pedagogical or curricular innovation for teaching undergraduate courses in Electrical Engineering including designing modern laboratories and project-based courses for freshman and senior students. And designing novel analog, radio-frequency, millimeter-wave and terahertz integrated circuits for ultra-fast and ultra-low-power communications.


ROOPALI KUKREJA, Assistant Professor, Materials Science and Engineering, Ph.D., Stanford University (2014). RESEARCH: Use of X-ray techniques to image and understand the response of electronic and magnetic materials across electronically or optically driven transitions. This provides us with a unique method to image the phase transformation or switching dynamics in these materials and manipulate physical properties on ultrafast timescales.
SUSAN GENTRY, Lecturer PSOE, Materials Science and Engineering, Ph.D., University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2012). RESEARCH: Integrating computational modules into the undergraduate and graduate materials curriculum, focusing on curriculum development and pedagogy. She is also investigating barriers to transfer student success as a part of her engineering education research.


SEONGKYU LEE, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D., Pennsylvania State University (2009). RESEARCH: Conducting mathematical and computational research on fluid mechanics, aerodynamics, and aeroacoustics.
XINFAN LIN, Assistant Professor, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D., University of Michigan (2014). RESEARCH: physics-based and system-level modeling and estimation and control of dynamic systems. Specific applications include the energy and automotive systems, such as battery management for electric vehicles and control of renewable energy systems.
JASON MOORE, Lecturer PSOE, Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Ph.D., University of California, Davis (2012). RESEARCH: design of vehicles and machines that are “aware” of human intentions and thus can be optimally controlled by them. His work in single track vehicles and powered lower limb prostheses use an amalgamation of multibody dynamics, robotics, optimal control, biomechanics, system identification, physiology, and software engineering.